Five runs in the sixth and seventh innings weren’t enough to beat the Pirates Wednesday afternoon in a 7-5 loss to Pittsburgh.
After falling in a 6-2 hole, the Rangers climbed back to 6-5 with three seventh-inning runs. Three RBI singles, including two with two outs, plated three runs before Alex Rios flied out to left field to end the threat.
Rangers’ manager Ron Washington said the problem Wednesday was that the Rangers failed to record a shutdown inning.
“Every time we put runs on the board, we couldn’t get a shutdown inning. If we could’ve gotten a shutdown inning, it might have been different today,” he said.
Down 4-0, the Rangers scored two in the sixth inning, and proceeded to give up two in the next half-inning. After three more runs in the seventh, the Rangers conceded a run in the top of the eighth.
Pirates’ starter A.J. Burnett took a perfect game into the fifth inning, but the Rangers offense got to the lanky right-hander in his final one-and-a-third inning.
Burnett finished with five earned runs allowed in six-and-a-third innings, and seven strikeouts.
And while five Texas runs went on Burnett’s ledger Wednesday, he outdueled Ranger starter Matt Garza early. Burnett struck out five of the first six batters he faced through two innings.
Garza threw just four innings Wednesday afternoon, surrendering three runs on five hits and walking four Pirates. Garza threw 89 pitches in what matches his shortest outing of the season. It was his shortest start as a Ranger.
“Four walks will kill you,” Garza said. “And today the difference was those four walks.”
The first walk of the afternoon came to Felix Pie in the third inning. Pie would steal second base, and score two batters later on a Neil Walker RBI single.
Walks once again fueled a Pirates scoring chance in the fourth inning. Garza walked the leadoff hitter, allowed back-to-back singles, and walked home a run before recording an out in the fourth.
Elvis Andrus bobbled a ground ball – what seemed to be a tailor-made double play ball – with one out and the bases juiced. It ended up being a fielder’s choice that brought home the third Pittsburgh run.
Washington echoed the notion that walks hurt his starting pitcher.
“Today it was his command [with which he struggled]. I’ve never seen him walk that many guys. And when he decided to put the ball in the strike zone, they put it in play and found a hole. It just wasn’t his day,” Washington said.
“My job is still the same,” Garza said. “My job is to go out there and get as many outs as I can and keeps those runs off the board.
“I haven’t been doing my job,” he said. Garza is now 3-4 as a member of the Rangers.
The Pirates added a fourth run off of reliever Joe Ortiz in the fifth inning. Back-to-back singles put runners at the corners with no one out, and Justin Morneau scored on a double-play groundout.
Texas plated two runners on a single off the glove of a diving Clint Barmes at shortstop, scoring David Murphy and Leonys Martin. Both runners walked to lead off the inning.
The Pittsburgh offense quickly responded in the top of the seventh, as they matched the Texas offense with two runs of their own.
A sacrifice fly from Pedro Alvarez and a wild pitch with a runner on third from Neal Cotts did the damage in the Pirate seventh. Clint Barmes added an insurance run with a solo home run high off the left field foul pole in the top of the eighth against Tanner Scheppers.
It was the first run Scheppers has allowed in seven outings.
The Pirates’ win completes a three-game sweep of the Rangers.
“It was a tough series,” Kinsler said. “We put together some good innings the past couple days, we just couldn’t get over the hump. And they kept answering.”
The Rangers have Thursday off before the division-leading Oakland Athletics come to Arlington for a three-game series beginning Friday.